Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Pyramid construction?

Today, I assembled the Poire et Sichuan Chocolat small entremets. I had prepared the maple pear jelly inserts and szechuan pepper dark chocolate mousse in Flexipan pyramid molds earlier this week. They are frozen before being unmolded and glazed with a shiny chocolate glaze. A square of very moist chocolate cake is lightly soaked in simple syrup and then a thin layer of praline crunch is spread. Then the mousse pyramid is laid on top (carefully!). Before display, a little chocolate shave is added at the apex like a mohawk hairdo.

The world of Flexipan is novel for me because we had limited exposure or use for them during school. The multitude of shapes and sizes makes the possibilities endless, especially in the large-scale creation of entremets and inserts. Now I wish I could purchase many of them but they are not cheap and they seem to only come in large quantities. Perhaps they are less expensive in France? I can just see my suitcase full of pastry equipment and supplies after our trip in April!

Thursday, February 15, 2007

The value of clogs

Regardless of what profession I am in, I have always valued comfortable feet. In fact, one of the main reasons why I chose ophthalmology was that I preferred doing surgery while seated rather than standing. After my first week at Ganache, it was apparent that my previous footwear, which had been cheap gardening shoes that were also used as operating room shoes, was not adequate to prevent achy feet at the end of a working day. The "investment" in Dansko professional clogs was a great decision as my feet are now much happier after a busy day in the kitchen. The House of Clogs on Robson Street had many shoes from which to select and the nice saleswoman gave me a student discount.

Yesterday, I was working out front during the mad Valentine's Day onslaught. It was dizzying how busy it became, especially between 4 and 6 pm. The majority of customers were husbands or boyfriends and we were selling as fast as we could. Many items sold out quickly, especially the Valentine's Day pavé and crème brûlée. Because of the extreme rain and heavy foot traffic in the store, by midday, I was mopping up a large puddle which had formed in front of the display case. The experience has taught me a great deal about the challenges of running a successful pastry shop and what planning and streamlining is required to hopefully make things run smoothly. I just wish that I had been wearing my kitchen clogs instead of my regular shoes because at the end of the day, my poor feet were so sore!

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Un livre marveilleux

Eric and I are planning a trip to France at the end of March and I have been reading a fabulous book by Peter Mayle. For those who love France and food, this is a must-read. We plan to spend much of our time in Provence and Paris in search of fine food, delicious pastries, and unparalleled chocolate. Although we went to Paris for our honeymoon back in January 2004, the rainy cold weather was not ideal to explore as much as we had wanted. Now, with my new appreciation for pastry, I plan to visit as many patisseries and chocolateries as I can, including Pierre Herme, Michel Cluizel, and Patrick Roger. We might even stop in Montelimar...the birthplace of nougat. If anybody knows of other must-visit patisseries and chocolateries, let me know!

Thursday, February 1, 2007

Mindless macaroons

Macaroons 005, originally uploaded by CharmChang.

When working out front at Ganache, I also have some assembly and packaging responsibilities. It is all very mindless work and it gives me time to reflect on how different my life is now compared to before when I was in medicine. In the past, I always craved time when my brain did not need to be active and thinking. This actually did happen occasionally during ophthalmology (for example, when seeing the 10th patient of the day with blepharitis and dry eyes). Nowadays, there are times when I have a surplus of mindless time and I am unsure of how I feel about it.

Yesterday, I took over 700 macaroons and paired them up (by size) so that today, I could sandwich them together with filling. Ganache makes four flavours of macaroons (strawberry, lemon, coffee, and chocolate) and they are sandwiched together with flavoured buttercream (or lemon curd for the lemon macaroons). The work is repetitive and not difficult. My days out front are typically mindless, interrupted occasionally by bursts of activity. Although I have absolutely no regrets about my decision to leave ophthalmology, I do find the contrast of my old versus new life quite astounding at times.